News / Health

Tuberculosis 'Time Bomb' Costs Europe Billions Annually

Belarusians queue for X-rays to detect tuberculosis during Belarusian Red Cross screening, Minsk, Jan. 29, 2013.
Belarusians queue for X-rays to detect tuberculosis during Belarusian Red Cross screening, Minsk, Jan. 29, 2013.
Reuters
Europe is facing a multi-billion-euro time bomb of rising costs to control tuberculosis (TB) as drug-resistant forms of the lung disease spread, a pioneering study found.
 
Often thought of as a disease of the past or one restricted to marginalized communities, TB is already inflicting annual direct costs of more than 500 million euros on the region and another 5.3 billion euros in productivity losses.
 
The study, by health economists based in Germany, also suggests the economic burden of TB far outweighs the likely costs of investing in much-needed research to develop more effective medicines and vaccines — something they said governments and the drug industry should do urgently.
 
"We know that new drugs and vaccines are very expensive [to develop], but if you take these costs into consideration, then everything is justified," said Roland Diel, a health economics professor at Germany's University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, who led the study.
 
The emergence of strains of that can't be treated with even the most powerful of drugs has turned TB into one of the world's most pressing health problems.
 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB infected 8.7 million people worldwide in 2011 and killed 1.4 million. As many as two million people may have drug-resistant strains by 2015, the Geneva-based health agency says.
 
Treating even typical TB is a long process. Patients need to take a cocktail of antibiotics for six months and many fail to complete the treatment. That, alongside overuse and misuse of antibiotics, has fuelled the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug resistant (XDR-TB).
 
For this study, published online in the European Respiratory Journal on Friday and the first of its kind, researchers used a systematic review of literature and institutional websites for the 27 EU member states to summarize data on TB treatment costs in 2011.
 
They split the countries into two groups based on gross domestic product (GDP) per person.
 
For the old EU 15 countries plus Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia, the average direct cost per case of typical TB was 10,282 euros ($13,600), but was more than 57,200 euros for MDR cases and more than 170,700 euros for XDR cases. For the remaining EU states, average costs were 3,427 euros for standard treatable TB and around 24,100 euros for drug-resistant cases.
 
The total treatment cost of all TB cases in 2011 was 536,890,315 euros ($712.26 million).
 
While the number of drug-resistant TB cases in Europe is currently only a tiny fraction of the total of around 70,000 cases per year, Diel said that would swiftly change.
 
"It's a time bomb in terms of drug-resistant cases," he said in a telephone interview. "They are just a small fraction right now, but that will increase... so the costs will also rise."
 
Beyond the direct costs, Diel's team also calculated TB's impact in terms of the monetary value of lost productivity.
 
Using disability-adjusted life years, or DALYs — a measure of disease burden that looks at the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death — they found the total years lost was 103,104 in 2011. In monetary terms, this amounted to more than 5.3 billion euros.
 
Diel said this was the figure that shocked him the most.
 
"People assume that in most parts of Europe, TB doesn't play much of a role in comparison to other diseases. But, in fact, the costs of it are very high," he said. "It's billions, and nobody realized that before."
 
Responding to the findings, Francesco Blasi, President of the European Respiratory Society, said they showed the huge burden of TB on both the economy and on society in Europe.
 
"It is critical that healthcare professionals and policymakers take note," he said in a statement.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs